short stories

Silence can be the loudest words spoken

I believe this is a post that is as much for me as anyone in the world. I have a bad habit of speaking more than I listen. I also have a problem with letting words spill out of my mouth before I have a chance to allow my brain to check what ramifications may befall me because of the words I speak. I have always used a saying that states, “If you don’t want the answer, don’t ask me.” Part of this is because I speak with complete honesty when at all possible. This, in many cases, can hurt the feelings of those who ask my opinion. The other part is that I speak out how I feel very quickly, not worrying about those around me. This, in some cases, can be called “diarrhea of the mouth.”

Although many who know me think highly of me because of my honesty, others wish I would keep my mouth shut. In this day and age, people are offended by every little thing that they do not feel is a compliment to them. This causes me (and many like me) to use our words carefully so as not to offend others. Someone like me, who loves to talk and believes that honesty is the best policy, can cause very adverse conditions. 

I was raised in a time when it was fine to speak your opinion to those who were your age or younger than you. However, when speaking with someone who is your senior, you must only give your opinion when asked for it. For the most part, this worked well in the ’70s, ’80s, and even the first part of the ’90s. However, this way started to fall apart in the mid-’90s up to this day. What changed?  The changes began when people stopped teaching their children to listen to their elders. Instead, they are now taught to speak up when they feel like it, no matter what their age is. This has its good parts as well as its bad parts. First off, it does give each individual a voice in society. This is considered a good thing. The second part is where the problem lies. When we no longer teach our children to hold their tongues when speaking with an adult, we have the respect taken out of society, and we create a world where anything and everything offends someone. So, even though we were not living in a perfect society during the time that I grew up, I can say that we used more respect and were less offended than those people being raised today.

I am now in my fifties and find myself gaining ground on the older generation. I also find myself in a society that no longer believes in the teachings that I grew up with. Although I try to speak the truth, few wish to listen, and of those few, half become offended by what I have to say. So, how shall I speak without offending others around me? This is something that I have pondered over for a long time now. I believe there are two ways to solve this dilemma, and I shall try to explain each in the following paragraphs.

Mule deer with its ears forward to listen
Listen up

It is wise to listen twice as much as to talk. Twice may also grow to three, four, or many more times depending upon the situation and people with whom you are associating at any given time. Although this may sound crazy to most people in today’s world, it works quite well. Those who speak as much as or more than they listen miss out on many valuable lessons in life. When you are speaking, it is very hard to listen. Furthermore, those who speak too much tend to ramble and lose any authority they may have gained. There is a time to speak and a time to listen. The time to listen must outweigh the time to speak by no less a margin than 2:1. This is a wise way to live.

With the last paragraph being in complete truth, it does cause a problem for people like me. I love to talk and find myself rambling after a while. I don’t take the time to think before I speak. For the most part, this works well for me. However, during a heated discussion, my words do not come out as I wish them to (I start rambling). Now I find that all the information and truths that I wish to share have become no more than a garbled mess of words that make up a bunch of nonsense. This has caused me grief in many instances. I must find a way to put forth what I wish to say in a way that others can understand and respect.

It took me more years than I wish to admit to come up with a way to fix this problem I have. Then, two years ago, it hit me in a way I had never thought of. I found that when I write, I get very quiet and allow my mind to work out how to put forth the words I wish to use. Not only did it help me get my point across on any given subject, but I could go back and fix any wording mistakes before someone could read what I had written. My voice became my printed word, no longer just a bunch of hot air! I don’t have to take back what I said to spare someone’s feelings because I can fix it before it goes out to the public. I can now read my thoughts and decide whether to allow someone else to read them. This works very well for me.

If you were to meet me and have a spoken conversation with me, you would find a different person than the writer you see before you. I am the same, and yet I am two different people all rolled into one. Although both sides of me think the same, have the same beliefs, and are honest about them, one is well-written while the other can be overpowering with words.

The adage says, “If only I knew then what I know now.” There is a lot of truth in this, and as we get older, we all find this to be true. I hope that if one day we speak face-to-face, you will remember me more by my writing than by my spoken words. There are many ways to speak without using your voice box or that big hole in your face. Sometimes, silence can be the loudest!

I hope that in some way I have helped those like me find ways to express themselves by listening more than speaking. If speaking is your main issue (as it is mine), may you find different ways to use speech other than having diarrhea of the mouth? Take care, my friends. Remember, we are all in this together.